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Spec. Ed. Stimulus Dollars: This Issue Isn't Going Away

Way back in the spring, my colleague Christina Samuels wrote this story about how the U.S. Department of Education is taking a hard line with districts that aren't meeting the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Apparently, districts that aren't in compliance with the IDEA have to make sure they target special education dollars made available under the stimulus package to improving their programs for students with disabilities. They can't reduce their own contributions, as they normally would be able to under the law, now that the federal share has increased.

It's a very complex, technical issue, but one that has major implications for both school districts' spending and services to students in special education. And it doesn't seem to be going away. The Education Department just put out this letter spelling out its position on the issue. According to Christina's story, advocates for districts say this interpretation wasn't Congress' intent. But the department is clearly not backing down.

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